Functional characterisation of a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha subunit from the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus

Kristin Lees, Andrew K Jones, Kazuhiko Matsuda, Miki Akamatsu, David B Sattelle, Debra J Woods, Alan S Bowman

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12 Citations (Scopus)
6 Downloads (Pure)


Ticks and tick-borne diseases have a major impact on human and animal health worldwide. Current control strategies rely heavily on the use of chemical acaricides, most of which target the CNS and with increasing resistance, new drugs are urgently needed. Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) are targets of highly successful insecticides. We isolated a full-length nAChR alpha subunit from a normalised cDNA library from the synganglion (brain) of the brown dog tick, Rhipicephalus sanguineus. Phylogenetic analysis has shown this R. sanguineus nAChR to be most similar to the insect alpha 1 nAChR group and has been named Rsan alpha 1. Rsan alpha 1 is distributed in multiple tick tissues and is present across all life-stages. When expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes Rsan alpha 1 failed to function as a homomer, with and without the addition of either Caenorhabditis elegans resistance-to-cholinesterase (RIC)-3 or X. laevis RIC-3. When co-expressed with chicken beta 2 nAChR, Rsan alpha 1 evoked concentration-dependent, inward currents in response to acetylcholine (ACh) and showed sensitivity to nicotine (100 mu M) and choline (100 mu M). Rsan alpha 1/beta 2 was insensitive to both imidacloprid (100 mu M) and spinosad (100 mu M). The unreliable expression of Rsan alpha 1 in vitro suggests that additional subunits or chaperone proteins may be required for more robust expression. This study enhances our understanding of nAChRs in arachnids and may provide a basis for further studies on the interaction of compounds with the tick nAChR as part of a discovery process for novel acaricides. (C) 2013 Australian Society for Parasitology Inc. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-81
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • Rhipicephalus sanguineus
  • tick
  • ion channel
  • acaricide
  • nicotinic acetylcholine receptor
  • xenopus oocytes
  • imidacloprid
  • variabilis acari ixodidae
  • gated chloride channel
  • target-site resistance
  • molecular characterization
  • salivary-glands
  • dermacentor-variabilis
  • transcriptome analysis
  • ctenocephalides-felis
  • boophilus-microplus


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